SoSe 16: PS-Introduction to Cultural Studies II: James Bond: Cultural and Literary Phenomenon
Cold War espionage, evil masterminds, the British gentleman, women as sexual objects, a world of luxury, style and legendary cars, of technological gadgets and exotic locations: these are just a few ... read more
Cold War espionage, evil masterminds, the British gentleman, women as sexual objects, a world of luxury, style and legendary cars, of technological gadgets and exotic locations: these are just a few of the cultural references that we associate with the fictional universe of James Bond. The immense popularity of catchphrases, such as “My name is Bond, James Bond” or “shaken, not stirred”, indicates the degree to which Bond’s prominence has long outgrown the realm of espionage literature and enjoys a ubiquity in popular culture. Bond has attained the status of an international household name that signifies a global cultural phenomenon whose lasting appeal to a broad and diverse audience appears to rest in the character’s simultaneous concreteness and malleability. Paradoxically, he can be read both as a nostalgic signifier of Britain’s imperial past and as an embodiment of what is most aggressively modern about the present. While portrayals of Bond make explicit use of a stable set of values, they also display a remarkable flexibility in responding to the specific cultural desires and political discourses of their time. In this course we will be taking a close look at the literary and cinematic portrayals of James Bond and his world with the aim of identifying continuities and variations. By addressing questions of gender, identity, global politics, ethics, fashion and tourism, we will seek to come to a deeper understanding of how James Bond has become and still remains one of the most popular and well-known cultural phenomena of our time.
Required texts: Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale (1953) and From Russia with Love (1957). Shorter texts will be made available on Blackboard. A list of the cinematic adaptations will be made available at the beginning of the course. Since students are required to have watched the respective movies for in-class discussion, additional screening sessions will be offered. Course requirements are regular and active participation as well as short presentations. Credits can be obtained by submitting a term paper.